#WeekendCoffeeShare: If We Were Having Coffee… On Christmas Eve

Hello my lovely booklovers,

how are you? Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

Happy Holidays my lovely readers!

If we were having coffee today, you would be warmly invited to celebrate Christmas with me and my family. Here in Germany, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve.

If we were spending the day together today, we’d have to go to the shops early. I still have to pick up beef and turkey from the butcher for Christmas dinner tonight (don’t worry, it’s pre-ordered and we’d be in and out). We’d also pop in next door to get drinks for tonight.

All my presents are wrapped and ready, so we’d have a bit of time to kill until just before 4pm. I’d invite you to come to church with me for a family-friendly service in my local church, where the female pastor greets everyone with a hug at the door and the service consists mainly of the nativity play and a few Christmas carols. We’re not a religious family, Christmas is the only time we actually attend in a year, aside from weddings, funerals and christenings. But we’ve been going to this particular service since I was 12 and one of the kids in the nativity as preparation for my confirmation. I love that even though it’s the main protestant church in town, it still feels like a family affair, and the family service is always translated into German Sign Language by pastors from a different parish. Everybody gets a candle, and towards the end of the service, the children are invited to approach the altar and light their candles on the Peace Light, which has been lit with the Eternal Flame that has come straight from the Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem. That sea of candles is when Christmas starts for me. And not even the organist who is always waaayyyy too fast (and who happens to be my high school music teacher) can ruin it for me.

After church, which lasts 1 hour 15 mins maximum, I’d pick up my dad and we’d make our way to my gran’s for Christmas Dinner. It’s just dad, gran and me tonight, my mum is at her parents’ and my sister is with her partner and his family.

We’ll have meat fondue tonight, as it’s been our family tradition for as long as I can remember. So we’ll have beef and turkey bites to dip into the rechaud, and enough baguettes, herb butter, sauce hollandaise and red sauce (my dad’s concoction) to make dinner last hours. But before we sit down for dinner, we’ll exchange gifts – don’t worry, we never go overboard on presents.

What are your holiday traditions? What do you celebrate? I’d love to hear more. One of the reasons I wish happy holidays is because my friends are so diverse, they all celebrate different holy days. And even those who do not celebrate in December, are still likely to have winter holidays or time off for bank holidays and  New Year’s.   This week, I’ve been celebrating the winter solstice with a Pagan friend of mine, and loved it. It was a small outdoor gathering on a local hill with an amazing view. I for one am glad the days are starting to get longer again.

So I hope that you’ll join me for part of my Christmas celebration today, just as I will be happy to celebrate your holiday with you! You’re more than welcome here and there’ll be plenty of food.  Check ou the other Weekend Coffee Sharers as well, though, to spread the festive mood!

Same time, next week?

Happy Holidays, my lovelies, whatever you may celebrate this month!

xoxoxo

#WeekendCoffeeShare: If We Were Haing Coffee… On December 17

Hello my lovely booklovers,

how are you? Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

If we were having coffee today, I’d offer you a chocolate Macchiato or a steaming mug of mulled wine to get into the Christmas mood! Can you believe Christmas is less than a week away?? Where did the year go?

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this week has been all about Christmas presents for me. It all started with me receiving a mystery envelope, that contained a Doctor Who charm bracelet. This time there was a note, and it came from my bestie! She really does know me.

All week I’ve been trying to find presents for my family members. And I am happy to say that except for one I still have to pick up, I’ve got all of them together now. It’s such a relief, now I just hope my family likes them.

My Secret Santa parcel has arrived and it came all the way from Utrecht, the Netherlands. And boy, did my Secret Santa Marleen spoil me! Just look at all the amazing stuff she got me:

My #tbtbsanta Secret Santa presents from Marleen! @theliteratigirl

My #tbtbsanta Secret Santa presents from Marleen! @theliteratigirl

I love all of them so much! Now I just hope that my own Secret Santa liked what I got and made for her! I’ve been checking her social media bút she hasn’t posted yet, but through parcel tracking I know she has received it!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I attended a classical piano concert last night. My friend, Hungarian pianist Elöd Ambrusz played his second solo-concert here in Germany, showcasing the works of Liszt, Schumann, Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninoff, as well as an on-the-spot Jazz Improv of Silent Night as an encore. He was incredible and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that his auditions at some of Germany’s top universities and music academies next week will be successful. He is already one of Hungary’s top young pianists as a student of an elite Budapest music high school, and his concert last night was proof that he has truly mastered his instrument. Because Elöd’s father works for my dad and we’ve known the entire family since Elöd was born, the entire office was invited for gulash at my gran’s house after the concert, and it ended up a really nice night with easy conversation, music and gran’s home cooking for 10 of us.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I tried to get press coverage for Elöd’s concert and sent a note around to the publications in town, asking to be added to their cultural calendar and suggesting reviews and/or interviews. I even provided info on how to contact Elöd, that he’s fluent in German etc. While the two main daily papers didn’t follow up, a “news outlet” that’s pretty controversial to start with sent me the rudest reply. And not just some “reporter”, but the CEO. He went on an all-out attack, asking whether what I sent was meant as a press release and suggested I got my M.A. from a gum machine and he didn’t want to read all that. Well, my email included the flyer that had the main info on it, I just provided additional info and it came from my private email, not from any official capacity as event organiser or PR person. And as far as press releases go, I have had to work with far worse. It took all my willpower not to respond in the heat of the moment, because in the end I guess I’m more professional than him. But he chose the wrong person’s leg to piss on, and asking around with friends and family (some of whom hold political positions in town) revealed that he treats everyone this unprofessionally. So instead of giving him the satisfaction of rising to his bait, I’m doing something else. Guess who will have official complaints lodged against them with the German press council and the German Union of Journalists? Two can play that game, mate. And unlike him, I DID have journalistic training. He runs a glorified news blog that publishes press releases verbatim (maybe he didn’t like mine because he would have had to rewrite it) and aggravates everyone he comes into contact with. Because he holds a position within the GUJ aimed at young journalists, I will simply ask whether behaviour like his is really the sort of example a role model for young journalists should be setting in his official GUJ capacity and provide a screenshot of his unprovoked outburst…. That should land him in a bit of trouble. Especially because I will ask those who have been treated like this by him to report him as well. And because we’re fairly well-connected in this town, we’ll be suggesting that he and his organisation get blacklisted and removed from media mailing lists of all groups, activities and events we are in some way connected with, even if it’s just friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. Might even mention his conduct to his sponsors – pretty sure they would not appreciate being treated like that either. If he lashes out at a civilian who informs him of a classical concert like this, I can only imagine how he treats others who have to deal with him and genuine news sources. As I said, two can play that game. And frankly, he’s exactly the sort of journalist I hate the most, because his behaviour reflects badly on all of us who are trying to do their job well.

Anyway, that’s it from me for this week. I’m not usually this vindictive, but I simply don’t tolerate crappy journalism and rude behaviour. How was your week?

Check out the other Weekend Coffee Sharers as well. I’m sure they’ll love to see you too!

Thank you for having coffee with me. Same time, next week?

 

#WeekendCoffeeShare: If We Were Having Coffee… On December 11

Hello my lovely booklovers,

how are you? Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

I am so sorry for missing last week’s Weekend Coffee Share but I wouldn’t have been much fun to be around. I came down with a major cold last Saturday and I’ve spent the entire week on sick leave. I’m better now, my voice is still a bit raspy from my cough, but I definitely won’t pass anything on to you – except your hot cup of coffee of course.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’ve been redesigning and updating my CV. My sister is overlooking applications at her job, so I got some advice from her  and I think the final version is pretty neat.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that once my eyes stopped being sensitive to light (and the glare of a computer screen) I finally made some progress updating my book inventory. I’m making a list of all my books (so I don’t buy duplicates at shops and flea markets) and next to Title and Author, I’m including the date my version of the book was published, and a mark whether they are First Editions, Signed Copies, whether I’ve read them and whether I have reviewed them. That way I can work my way through the list eventually and add reviews to this blog and keep up to date with my TBR pile. I’m picking up every book I own, and I’m also adding my embossed “Library Of” seal to them. I’ve only done 1 shelf and my Kindle library (with 2 floor-to-ceiling shelves and 2 stuffed Expedit cubes still to go) and so far I’m up to 410 books, 41 of which are first editions and 8 of my books are signed.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I received a postcard from my TBTB Secret Santa telling me that my parcel is on its way and if the post stamp is anything to go by, it’ll come from The Netherlands. I can’t wait!! It’s so exciting to do a bookish Secret Santa. As for the gifts I’ll be giving my Secret Santa: they’ll get books, homemade journals, a calendar, stamps, a sew-on patch, homemade Berlin Bread (Christmas cookies) and German Christmas sweets, as well as a little something for their pet. I sent my parcel off yesterday, so it should get there next week (it doesn’t have too far to go and it’s tracked). I actually figured out I have another Secret Santa, because at the same time the postcard arrived, I got a mystery parcel.

The other day I received a Funko Pop vinyl figure of Captain Malcolm Reynolds because apparently I “need a guy in the house” hehehe. I know who that was from. Then this new parcel included a Funko Pop figure of John Watson, and it did take a bit of Sherlocking (figuring out who I’d given my actual address to as I usually give out the office address, who’d know me enough to know that I 1.) didn’t have this figurine and 2.) love John Watson, and who fit all the criteria and lives in the UK) but I found out that my bestie had sent me this little Baker Street Boy. To be fair, we have a history of sending each other sneaky presents so I had a pretty good guess from the start.

All in all, I didn’t get as much done this week as I had hoped. Obviously, I was sick, but I still wanted to spend my time being productive and catching up on my reading and reviews. I guess that’ll have to wait for the actual Christmas break.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I went to a 75th birthday celebration today for a lady who has been a friend and sort of mentor to me for the last 20 years at the Naturfreunde group here in town.  After a week in pretty much solitary confinement it was great to see some of my best and oldest friends today, have coffee and cake, good conversations and a good laugh. I’ve missed how easy it’s always been between us, no matter whether we’ve seen each other lately or not.  I had a bit of an emotional wobble at the party, though. Birthday lady requested we sing a few old songs, and one of those songs was “Der Wanderer” by Gerd Sorg. I know it’s not my usual cup of tea, but I love this song. It was my granddad’s favourite and the last time I’ve heard this was when his choir (Die Wupperhofer Men’s Choir from Solingen) got special permission from the pastor to sing a rendition of “Der Wanderer” in church at my granddad’s funeral 8 years, 11 months, and seven days ago. So I sat there with goosebumps up my arms and tears in my eyes. My gran still loves this song (it’s her favourite as well) but she hasn’t dared to listen to it since my granddad passed away. My favourite part of the song is the chorus, in which the wanderer or vagabond replies that “you’ve never counted the stars, the beauty of the world remained a dream for you. You’ve never missed the sun, because even when it shines, you barely notice it.” And I’ve got goosebumps yet again.

I know you won’t understand the lyrics, but this is a men’s choir version of “Der Wanderer” as my granddad would have sung it:

So, what have you been up to this week? If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that this is it from me for now. Check out the other Weekend Coffee Sharers as well, I’m sure they’d love to see you!

Thank you for having coffee with me. Same time, next week?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 New To Me Authors I Read In 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is the brainchild of The Broke & the Bookish. Every Tuesday, we compile a list of our literary Top 10, and then add it to the blog hop.

This week is all about our Top 10 New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2016.

 

1.) Tim Winton (Breath, Cloudstreet, Eyrie, Dirt Music, An Open Swimmer)

2.) Jackie French (The Ghost by the Billabong)

3.) Sally Morgan (My Place)

4.) Melissa Lucashenko (Mullumbimby)

5.) JG Ballard (High-Rise)

6.) David McCallum (Once A Crooked Man)

7.) Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe)

8.) Joshua Foer (Atlas Obscura)

9.) Rachel Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry)

10.) Nathan Besser (Man In The Corner)

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Bookish Holiday Gift Guide

Top Ten Tuesday is the brainchild of The Broke & the Bookish. Every Tuesday, we compile a list of our literary Top 10, and then add it to the blog hop.

This week is all about our Top 10 Bookish Holiday Gift Guide.

1.) Book Rest Lamp

2.) Book Page Art

3.) Personalised Ex Libris Embosser

4.) Personal Library Kit

5.) Library Card Socks

6.) Bookish iPhone Dock

7.) Literary Listography

8.) Where The Wild Things Are Pouch

9.) Night Owl Book Club pin

10.) A Book Club Subscription

 

#WeekendCoffeeShare: If We Were Having Coffee… On November 27

Hello my lovely booklovers,

how are you? Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’ve had a week of ups and downs. It started with getting my diploma on Monday, making it my official Graduation Day!! I did a happy dance all morning, even got a few gifts from friends. My parents’ reaction to me graduating? A handshake from my mum – with a sideboard between us – and my dad just nodded and didn’t even ask to see the diploma.

Now, I didn’t expect much. I know better than that. But given that a card and a bunch of flowers are the bare minimum of congratulatory gifts in my family, I expected at least that, and maybe a hug instead of a handshake. I don’t know about your families, but in mine, we used to celebrate achievements with family dinner out. We didn’t celebrate Monday. Not even a glass of wine or bubbly together. I spent my graduation day sitting by myself on my couch and getting drunk on 3/4 of a bottle of red wine and an empty stomach because errands had me running rugged all day.

It’s been almost a week and not once have I been given the feeling that they’re proud, although my mum has since awkwardly offered to get me a new watch as a grad gift. And it hurts. After 29 years I should know better and I should be used to never being good enough because no matter what I did I never was good enough for them, but on my graduation day, it hurt a lot. Still does, to be honest. And I’m so tired of always doing my best and never being good enough for my own family.

I graduated summa cum laude and on the Dean’s List, with a GPA of 3.97 (curse that 1 B+ I got on my very first assignment). I’ve never been a straight-A student until now, but because of that my parents think that my degree can’t have been a proper one or hard to complete, despite me working my arse off for my grades. In Germany, the highest grade you can have is 1,0 and my GPA works out at 1,0. I literally couldn’t have done any better than that. Somehow they think that studying by distance learning is not as worthy as going to a brick-and-mortar university, although it requires a lot more discipline and the ability to teach yourself. Next to my studies, I worked every day, I looked after family members and, if you’ve been following this blog you’ll know, I also struggle with mental health issues and by now my SAD has kicked in properly as well. There were times I doubted I’d ever finish the course. It’s taken all I had to get the grades I got and not lose my mind in the process and I am damn proud of that – I currently hold the highest academic degree anyone in this family ever got – at least until my sister gets her Master’s degree. So far, my parents haven’t told anyone I graduated; in fact, they’ve been talking about how my sister is writing her own Master’s thesis now.

And I am sorry for this coffee rant, but my parents’ reaction has really sent me into a negative spiral with echoes of the ever popular “you’re not good enough”, “when are you getting a real job”, “What can you do with that degree (note: Cross-Cultural Communication!) anyway,” and throwing in the evergreen “you should really lose weight” with the implied “nobody will ever love you like that” for good measure. And they wonder why I value books and the escape into fictional worlds so much…

There were several times this week when I got so upset I had to leave because I could feel myself tearing up. Not that they noticed. At one point I was shaking I was so angry. Mental health problems are not real problems to them, so they don’t understand how anyone could think them insensitive. These are people who fire employees with mental health diagnoses, because they’re “not easily fixed” and because, unlike a broken leg, “you can’t really see if they’re pretending or not” and so could milk them for the salary on sick leave without doing any work. And I sit there, thinking “your own daughter has these issues, and you’d know that if you’d listen. Is this how you’d treat me”?

So yeah. Absolute high followed by one of the biggest blows I’ve ever received this week. I’d love to talk to you about the Gilmore Girls revival and my arts and crafts I did to celebrate it, but I’m afraid I’m not in the mood. We’d drink our coffee out of my self-decorated Stars Hollow mugs, though.

My Stars Hollow DIY mugs. They both have both designs on the, just the other way round. ©theliteratigirl

My Stars Hollow DIY mugs. They both have both designs on the, just the other way round. ©theliteratigirl

And if we were having coffee, I’d talk a bit about Firefly and the fact that 2016 has claimed yet another favourite of mine: actor Ron Glass, who played Shepherd Book on the show. I hope you found serenity, Shepherd! Don’t go far!

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve had enough of this rant and I don’t blame you. Thank you for listening, though. The other Weekend Coffee Sharers are probably a bit more cheerful this week, so check them out!

Thank you for having coffee with me today on the First Advent. Same time, next week?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Authors I’d Love To Celebrate Thanksgiving With

Top Ten Tuesday is the brainchild of The Broke & the Bookish. Every Tuesday, we compile a list of our literary Top 10, and then add it to the blog hop.

This week is all about our Top 10 Authors I’d Love To Celebrate Thanksgiving With.

1.) Bill Bryson. He’s the reason I studied Travel Journalism, and I’d love to hear his many stories first-hand.

2.) Neil Gaiman. I love how he can take something we take for granted – like graveyards or the London Underground – and turn it into something extraordinary!

3.) Stephen Fry. If ever there was a conversationalist versed in any possible topic, it has to be Stephen Fry. I think he’d be an amazing dinner guest.

4.) Tim Winton. An author I discovered for myself this year. From his books, he sounds like a very down-to-earth Australian surfer dude and I’d like to know more!

5.) Melissa Lucashenko. Another author I read for the first time this year for my thesis. I’d love to talk to her about what home and Aboriginal heritage mean to her.

6.) J.K. Rowling. Oh come on, I think she’s a given!

7.) Mark Gatiss. Not only could we talk Sherlock and Doctor Who and all other sorts of nerdy things, we could also talk about bisexual Edwardian spies. Plus, Mark’s hilarious.

8.) Benjamin Alire Sáenz. As he’s a professor of literature, I am sure we’d have quite a few things to talk about.

9.) R. R. Virdi. Ronnie and I are in the same Facebook group and interact sometimes. From what I can tell, he’s always happy to meet fellow Wrimos and I’d love to meet him.

10.) Kathy Reichs. I find her work, literary and real-life, fascinating. Not all of it might be conversation for the dinner table, but it’d be interesting nonetheless!

Graduation Day Edition

The day is finally here, guys! Today is my Graduation Day!!!

This morning my diploma and transcript finally arrived and it feels so surreal to hold it in my hands. I’ve been doing a happy dance all morning, though opening a DHL letter at work is a bit less glamorous than attending an actual cap and gown graduation ceremony.

I knew last week that I’d graduate summa cum laude, but I found out today I also made the Dean’s List with a final GPA of 3.97.

Now, Germany doesn’t use the GPA system, so that number does not mean anything here, but converting it to the German system (where 1.0 is the very best grade and 6.0 is the worst, with 4.0  a fail) it works out at 1.09!

That’s right. It’s a very narrow margin, but I made it with a 1.0!!! I didn’t even have grades like these in primary school!

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Since I handed in my thesis in September, a few friends, neighbours, relatives and colleagues have given me small graduation gifts with instructions to only open them when I had my diploma. So today I did.

Next to 2 bottles of my favourite red wine (Gallo Summer Red), I got copies of Dr Seuss’ Oh, the places you’ll go, Tim Winton’s Eyrie, and Dirt Music, a collection of Australian Short Stories and a guide to Australian Language and Culture, a personal library kit, a Raydori in London Red, a kangaroo necklace pendant, a copy of the DVD The Graduate, a sticky calendar and write-on planner/mouse pad, Literary Listography, Australian map puzzle as fridge magnets, tea tree oil, Australian tea and the obligatory Graduate rubber duck.

I love them! And this also finally explain a couple of weird questions I have been asked. I also love the “Quintessentially Australian” items one of my friends got me including the tea and tea tree oil.

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I still can’t believe that this regular Monday at work is actually my Graduation Day. Because my mother can’t be trusted with a camera to take a decent picture to mark the occasion, I’m reduced to a Graduation Selfie. Ah well.

Now that that’s done, I’ll be cracking open one of those bottles of wine. Tonight I fully intend to celebrate my result. I worked my butt off for those grades. Tomorrow I’ll once again be looking for a new job and possible PhD programmes. But for now, I’m enjoying being a graduate.

 

Cin cin!

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